Writing about Indonesia

‘Writing about Indonesia’ predicates a knowledge of the country, and the panel discussion hosted by Books Actually on March 22nd presented interesting viewpoints from Singapore-based author Shivaji Das (also humanitarian, photographer and management consultant) and award-winning Indonesian author Okky Madasari, currently writer-in-residence at the International Writing Program, University of Iowa. One a visitor and traveler,…

Native Wisdom

Compassionate medicine. Cheerful fortitude. Love, oodles of love and care. Native wisdom. And leaps of faith. This, I find, is what works when you reach what seems like the end of the road. In the strangest and most stressful of times, there is wonder, discovery and learning … as when freshly-made virgin coconut oil and…

The Singapore Coffee Festival 2017

Baristas and cafes of Singapore came together for a weekend in August, in the expanse of the Marina Bay Cruise Center; two levels of artisanal coffee, tea and bites. It was about conscious consumption, choices, grounded pleasures, wildlife friendly beans, a barter market and an aeropress championship among other things … with balmy winds off…

Ranthambore … and the man who knows his tigers.

Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, India is a melding of hues, tones and associations. Amber, beige, puce, khaki, alabaster, butterscotch, camel, chamois, celadon green. Cinnamon, cloves and cocoa. Copper and cordovan. Splashes of apricot and bittersweet. Chartreuse and maize. The greens are mostly faded, dusty, subtle. Tiger sightings are a game of chance. There are…

Everything I needed to know about Saké

Imagine life without alcohol. Civilization would drive us mad. We’re only human, after all. – Michael Hoffman The Japan Prestige Sake Association organised an evening of free-flow saké tasting to introduce various breweries and their premium products to Singapore. (There are over 1500 saké breweries in Japan, with 40,000 to 50,000 different brands). So, at…

Singapore’s amazing ACRES

Last night a snake slithered under the washing machine and Sunday dinner was electrified by the gasping palpitations of the person who saw it as she walked past ; a breathless description of its tail to-ing and fro-ing, like a rattlesnake. A black snake, she thought it was. Anyone – like me – who has…

‘WOMEN: New Portraits’ by Annie Leibovitz

A part of a project that began over 15 years ago visits Singapore on its global tour. An exuberant and vivid celebration of women and womanhood, these are Ms Leibovitz’s portraits of women, many influential and recognizable, some not; and include past work from the original series as well as some unpublished photographs. The venue…

Suparna and her Elephants

This is to salute Suparna Ganguly – friend, environmentalist and animal activist – on her recent award from the President of India for her ‘outstanding work’; a public acknowledgement of her tireless, indomitable focus on the welfare of animals – wild, domesticated, abused, abandoned, disparaged, maligned. Suparna is a dear friend, yet I am the…

The Arts House, Singapore

The Arts House More Than Words : A Visual Playground of Chinese Characters A serendipitous visit and a delightful room of eye-popping art. The Hanzi characters of the Chinese language, square block and originally derived from signs and pictures, now find expression in kaleidoscope-like motifs … reminiscent of geometric abstraction.  Millenia-old logograms (signs or characters…

When Parents Age

  You see them in their fading days and years, in a state of grace that seems impossible to approach. They are frail, yet stronger than ever in spirit. They stumble, yet are resolute; unsure but trusting; in pain but serene; silent, mostly, yet smiling; enduring, patient, resting, sleeping, taking a few steps, a few…

MAD Museum of Art & Design, Singapore

The MAD side of life, a private museum that is both an art space and a modular event venue. The MAD Museum of Art & Design is worth a visit for the quirky, curious and revelatory pieces tastefully curated and exhibited on two levels; paintings, graffiti, sculptures, furniture and the odd this and that. It…

Wisdom for 2015

It was a serendipitous meeting on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, in Baba’s Cafe. Baba himself was present, but I later discovered he was just ‘passing through’, even though his visit might last eight months or more. I am from Manali, he said, and was willing to talk. You are a long way from…

Innocent, wounded, yet trusting

On a sunlit shore, seemingly nowhere in particular, framed by palms and blue skies, within thatched enclosures, lulled by the continual boom and ebb of waves, there is a little hub of passion and devotion where little babies struggle to survive and grizzled men lovingly tend to the wounded, the resting and the trusting. This…

A beautiful Friday morning …

It was a rare convergence : a beautiful morning, clear skies, sunshine chased by a rippling wind into ‘shadow and seek’, the beginning of a weekend and an hour to spare. Carpe diem is my resolution for 2014. And so, when I find myself traveling alongside a lengthy, glinting stretch of silver fringed by green…

Salvador Dali : Twice in Singapore

Surrealist Salvador Dali (1904 to 1989) ‘channeled the unconscious to unlock the power of the imagination’. His Paranoid-Critical method (the basis for most of his artworks) went further – creating art from a state of self-induced paranoia, putting the artist in touch with his subconscious and ‘systematic irrational thought’ in order to escape conventional understanding…

Autumn becomes Spring in Singapore

2014 began cool and windy, unseasonal, a nip in the air … fresh mornings, bright sunlit days and the occasional need for a light cover in the evenings. This ? In tropical Singapore ? Yes, in tropical Singapore. And then, without warning, an autumn-like spell descended upon us, a browning of the green, leaves changing…

A Double Whammy

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. (Roger A Caras) Losing two family members within a month and a half of each other is one of the hardest things to survive; it takes time to come to the realisation that gratitude is in order because you were blessed, and blessed…

Fluffy : 2000 – 2013

“Every life should have 9 cats” – Anonymous Our resident diva passed away on the 21st of November, having exhausted eight of her nine lives. (She donated one to our chocolate labrador). She lived a full life in her thirteen and a half years, more human than cat and more dog than cat (when she…

Luminecse : Art in Glass and Light

The main allure of a Fringe Festival is the opportunity it affords to broaden one’s thinking : the chance to engage with new art forms, stumble upon new ideas, marvel at new uses and depart with a new appreciation for passion, technique and creativity. So it was at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Exhibition, which concludes…

Who is a Citizen, what is Citizenship ?

By government projections, Singapore’s population could well be 6.9 million by 2030. The recently released White Paper on Population set off a storm of comment and feedback, a lot of it around citizens, immigrants and foreign talent. Consider some other perspectives – those of first generation Singaporeans, of those who have not taken citizenship but…

When well-being is more than mere medicine

The new, professional Singapore is more than a sum of its people who are increasingly beginning to look and talk different; it is seamless efficiency in heterogeneity. The necessity for a minor surgical procedure was a revelation of sorts; a face-to-face with the new Singapore of ‘foreign’ and ‘local’ talent (that has been the subject…

Thoughts for a new Year

2013 sounds promising, especially as the end of the world did not happen, and as always, a fresh start prompts introspection and reflection.   End of another year and it is stock-taking time everywhere. The media is awash with articles, opinions, columns and blogs offering much pause for thought. A couple of years ago, I…

Christmas

As people all over the world – secular and religious – observe this most celebrated of festivals; the reality that we are more similar than we are different (and especially at Christmastime) is reinforced by our geographies and cultures. The post-Hallowe’en November-long anticipation has yielded to Yuletide celebrations and menu planning, Christmas parties and Christmas…

‘A Whole new Mind’

Does current education suffer from the ‘tyranny of common sense’ ? Will the perspectives and templates that defined our generation sufficiently equip our children for their tomorrows ?   Let’s face it, things have changed. We’ve lived the trajectory – agriculture to industry to information – and have entered an age of ideas and abstractions…

A Frangipani in my Cappuccino : Three days in Bali

To visit Bali frequently is to rejuvenate the soul, to escape the glass and steel of metropolitan living to a world governed by exquisite harmony and balance. Possibly, the most easily accessed ‘instant nirvana’ in this part of the world, Bali is undisputedly the Island of the Gods; almost other-worldly in both geography and spirit….